EU funding for novel mathematical approaches in biophysical research

February 15, 2023

Aljaz Godec, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Multidisciplinary Sciences in Göttingen has been awarded a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). With 2 million euros, the ERC will fund the work of Godec’s team for five years.

The competition for the funding is fierce: The ERC selected only 371 of 2,222 applications in this round. “Receiving the Consolidator Grant is a fantastic validation of our work,” Godec says happily. “The reviews were extremely positive and exceeded my expectations.” Moreover, the grant strengthens the reputation and presence of his Mathematical bioPhysics group in their field of research, he adds.

The team develops and applies methods from mathematical physics to explore complex dynamic processes in biophysics. In their ERC project HiddenBio, the scientists aim to develop new mathematical approaches to analyse processes that are coupled to some form of hidden dynamics. This could be, for example, the folding of a protein observed in a single-molecule experiment. Proteins need to arrange themselves in specific structures to perform their individual functions in the cell. “We will provide a new framework for interpreting experiments that will provide access to information that was previously inaccessible to researchers,” Godec outlines. “Among other things, we hope to provide new insights into the function of molecular nanomachines, cell movement during tissue regeneration, and the self-organization of non-equilibrium systems.”

The new methods will not only have the potential to fundamentally advance biophysical research: “Our project is conceptually very abstract and mathematically intensive, but has the potential for very exciting and versatile applications,” the research group leader explains.

About Aljaz Godec

Aljaz Godec received his PhD from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). After working as a postdoctoral researcher and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Potsdam, Godec joined the former MPI for Biophysical Chemistry (now the MPI for Multidisciplinary Sciences) as an Emmy Noether Research Group Leader in 2017. In 2022, the Humboldt Foundation appointed him as Henriette Herz Scout.

About the ERC Consolidator Grant

The ERC has been awarding Consolidator Grants since 2013. The target group is scientists who can demonstrate seven to twelve years of excellent research after completing their doctorate. The funding is intended to support them in independently building a team or consolidating their scientific career. In 2023, the ERC awards a total of 657 million euros in Consolidator Grants.

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